Dave Green’s Earth to Echo has nary an original bone in its body, harkening back to (and by “harkening,” I mean blatantly ripping off) films like Richard Donner’s The Goonies (1985) and Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). The poster even carries a heavy resemblance to the one printed for E.T., and it seems that Earth to Echo desperately wants to fill that same niche for today’s kids. While the movie’s genteel attitude and overall good-hearted nature is welcome in comparison to the rest of the summer’s noisier fare, Earth to Echo is missing the right amount of charm and inspiration to succeed.
Really, there’s no simpler way to describe the movie than calling it a mix of The Goonies and E.T. with whatever flavor-of-the-month, found footage flick is currently making the rounds. That latter aspect is all director Green manages to add to the tween adventure subgenre the film inhabits. And like so many other found footage films, it does little for Earth to Echo besides add a layer of distraction gallivanting as style.
The film finds three best friends — Tuck (Brian “Astro” Bradley), Munch (Reese Hartwig) and Alex (Teo Halm) — faced with their last night together as a construction project threatens to remove them from their cozy suburban homes. But, after discovering glitches in their cell phones that look suspiciously like a map, the trio realizes they’re being beckoned to the desert. From here, the movie becomes a low-key, sci-fi adventure, as the three boys find a small, robotic extraterrestrial abandoned in the middle of nowhere. All the creature wants to do is reassemble his spaceship and head home, and the only thing standing between Tuck, Munch, Alex and their little alien friend, Echo, are nefarious government agents and other various complications, none of which ever feel too threatening.
For its target demographic, the film is certainly entertaining enough. But that’s about as much as the film can hope for, even with the good-natured ideas of friendship and growing up that underpin the movie. Sure, it’s reasonably likable entertainment for kids, but its also so timeworn and trite as to be nonexistent. Rated PG for some action and peril, and mild language.
Playing at Carolina Cinemas, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande,United Artists Beaucatcher.